NFL Picks Week #8



University Professor. PhD in stats. Proud dad of 2 boys.



All good things must come to an end. After four straight weeks without a losing record, we went 1-3-1 last week. It was bound to happen eventually. Still 16-8-2 over the past five weeks, so no need to panic. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get back on the winning track as soon as possible!

I’ve got 2 picks for Week #8 in the NFL and also a slight lean for the Raiders-Bills game, as well as the Thursday night game.

PICK #1: Detroit Lions +3 vs Pittsburgh Steelers

This is without a doubt my top play of the week, as my level of confidence takes a drop after that. The Steelers are coming off two very impressive wins at the Chiefs and against their archrivals from Cincinnati. Le’Veon Bell looked almost unstoppable last week! Playing a non-conference road game against a weaker opponent after such a couple of emotional games is a big red flag to me. The Steelers may not come out very strong in Detroit, while the Lions desperately need a win sitting on their 3-3 record.


You may have heard the following stat: Pittsburgh is 8-1 over the past 9 meetings with the Lions. But don’t let that number mislead you because the Steelers were actually 4-5 against the spread (ATS) in those games!

Another key factor in favor of Detroit is the fact they are coming off their bye week. They’ve had two full weeks to prepare for this matchup, while the Steelers were focusing on one of their worst enemies, the Bengals.

Bad news for Lions’ fans though: wide receiver Golden Tate is expected to miss the game. As a consequence, Marvin Jones, Eric Ebron and Theo Reddick might see an increased workload. I’m also concerned about the status of free safety Glover Quin who suffered a concussion last week. His status is unknown at the moment, but it doesn’t look good. At least the Lions might have left guard T.J. Lang back from an injury, which is good news for Matthew Stafford who has been sacked 23 times this season.

PICK #2: Carolina Panthers +2 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Carolina was off to a great start to the 2017 season with a 4-1 record, including a stellar 33-30 win in New England. They looked like a dominant force again. And then they went on to lose two straight games. A 28-23 loss against the Eagles was acceptable, but a 17-3 setback in Chicago is inexcusable.

The numbers from that game are mind-boggling. The Bears only attempted 7 passes and still won! Carolina dominated every statistical category. They made 20 first downs compared to only 5 for Chicago. Total yardage went 293 to 153 in favor of Carolina. I think it’s an understatement to say that turnovers killed the Panthers since both Chicago touchdowns were scored by rookie safety Eddie Jackson. If you had this guy in your fantasy league, congratulations!

Meanwhile, the Bucs haven’t fared much better lately, dropping their three most recent matches. Their only two wins came against the Giants and the Bears, which is not spectacular.

The Panthers will look to avenge a series sweep from last year, as they lost 17-14 at home and 17-16 in Tampa. Despite those two losses straight up, the Panthers are 6-2 against the spread over their past 8 meetings with the Bucs.

The only thing I don’t like so much about this game is how Carolina will be playing a fourth road game in their last five matches. That’s a lot of traveling, and I’m hoping they won’t be too tired.

After missing last week’s game in Chicago, 4-time Pro Bowler Luke Kuechly is on pace to return following a concussion he suffered earlier.

LEAN #1 (unofficial pick): Buffalo Bills -2.5 vs Oakland Raiders

Let’s start with the factors favoring Buffalo. First, the Raiders will be traveling three time zones and playing an early 1pm Eastern Time game, which is the equivalent of 10am on the West Coast. That’s always a bit disruptive for teams coming from the west. Also, Oakland may not experience a high level of motivation following two key matchups against divisional opponents that both ended by a one-point deficit. Indeed, they lost 17-16 to the Chargers before beating the Chiefs 31-30. Finally, the Bills will be looking for revenge after a 38-24 loss in Oakland last season.

However, I’m not betting on Buffalo for a couple of reasons. Those who have been following me for a while know how much I value rest in the NFL, considering it is such a physical sport. The Raiders will benefit from three additional days of rest since they played last Thursday night. Also, the Raiders have beaten the spread on five straight occasions when facing Buffalo; they are 7-1 ATS over the past eight meetings. That’s enough to get me worried and is one of the main reasons I’m staying away. Just thought I’d let you know.

LEAN #2 (unofficial pick): Baltimore Ravens -3 vs Miami Dolphins

Whenever a team who has been playing pretty badly recently faces a team who is on the rise, the public tends to overreact and pound the latter. Under such circumstances, I will almost always go with the team who has been struggling, taking advantage of an inflated line. That may be the case here.

The Dolphins have won three consecutive games, while the Ravens have dropped four of their last five matches. It’s no surprise that more than 60% of the bets have gone on Miami, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the line goes from 3 to 2.5 before kickoff (or maybe we’ll get -3 points at +100 in American format or 2.0 in decimal format).

Here is an interesting stat with respect to this game: over the last seven meetings between these two teams, the Ravens are 6-1 straight up, and 7-0 against the spread. Wow! That definitely grabs my attention! If the line improves, I may very well bet Baltimore in this one.


That concludes my NFL write-up for this week. If you are thinking about opening an account with a new bookie, don’t forget that my sportsbook reviews are there to help you make a well-informed decision.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the games!!!

Professor MJ